A Refuge Passage
Do you have a place in Scripture that can lift you from the valleys? I find I need that kind of lift occasionally and I tend to look for them when I read. One of them is found in the opening of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. As it is one of his prison epistles I imagine his excitement as the Holy Spirit revealed and inspired him at a time when his writings were his primary ministry activity.
Theologians and commentators consider this letter to be among the loftiest of Paul’s many inspired thoughts. This passage, in the original Greek was one long ecstatic sentence layering one amazing truth after another about God’s blessings—
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Notice the direction of movement when it comes to blessings. They originate in God’s character. He is preemptively loving, He is proactively planning, He is graciously forgiving, He is lavishly providing, He is wisely orchestrating, and He is faithfully completing as He works the plan of our redemption. He knew and arranged it in eternity past and will sustain the glory of His plan into eternity future. We are important to Him as individuals and as the church, His gathered followers. His goal for us is to experience the joy and freedom of being “holy and blameless in His sight”. By faith in Jesus, that goal is accomplished. Our debt is paid and our righteousness is granted as a gift.
I realize that as you read this many of you are facing difficult, even painful challenges. The blessings God brings do not prevent them, but they redeem them. God does not waste them, He uses them to bring about a better outcome for us and for others around us.
This weekend we will explore “hostile opposition” as a strange spring of gratitude.
Looking forward to seeing you!